Houston: For President Barack Obama, the humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border is increasingly becoming a political liability, giving Republicans a fresh opportunity to question his administration`s competence and complicating the debate over the nation`s tangled immigration laws.
Still, Obama is resisting calls to visit the border during his two-day fundraising trip to Texas, where he arrives today afternoon. Instead, Obama will hold a meeting in Dallas to discuss the crisis with faith leaders and Texas officials, including Republican Gov Rick Perry.
Obama`s trip comes one day after he asked Congress for USD 3.7 billion in emergency spending to get more resources to the border.
The discussion in Dallas is seen by the White House as a way to address the immigration issue while avoiding awkward scenes at the border.
Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have arrived there in recent months, many fleeing violence in Central America, but also drawn by rumours that they can stay in the US White House officials say most are unlikely to qualify for humanitarian relief and will be sent back to their home countries.
Obama`s decision to skip a border visit is likely to provide more material for the Republicans and handful of Democrats who say the president hasn`t responded quickly and forcefully enough to the mounting crisis.
Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, raised the prospect that Obama`s failure to take a firsthand look at the border crisis could be similar to former President George W. Bush viewing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 from the air instead of on the ground.
"I`m sure that President Bush thought the same thing, that he could just look at everything from up in the sky, and then he owned it after a long time," Cuellar said on Fox News.
Perry, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, has been scathing in his criticism of Obama, saying the White House has failed to respond to his repeated warnings about a flood of minors at the border.
Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House wasn`t worried about the scene of the president travelling to Texas without visiting the border.
Officials also pointed to Obama`s request to Congress yesterday for additional resources at the border as a sign of the president`s engagement in the crisis.